Census awards $600m field data contract for the 2010 count

The Census Bureau today awarded Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla., the five-year, $600 million Field Data Collection Automation project contract. The field data project will integrate the multiple automated systems required to obtain data securely and efficiently for the 2010 Census.

Field representatives will use mobile computers to collect data, a practice intended to increase efficiency and ultimately reduce costs for the census.

'We are revolutionizing the census. The hand-held computers are an integral part of a re-engineered 2010 Census,' Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said in a statement.

Traditionally, field data collection for the census was handled primarily through paper address lists, maps and questionnaires, resulting in high labor costs and potential errors because it took so many people to collect and process the data.

For the 2010 Decennial Census, the bureau plans to use automated systems to directly capture information collected during interviews, reducing the need for paper-based processing while increasing operational efficiency, improving accuracy and reducing costs.

The systems will support the data collection activities of Census Bureau enumerators and local census offices during the 2008 dress rehearsal and ultimately the 2010 count. At the peak of data collection operations during the 2010 Census, the FDCA system will support approximately 500 local offices and over 500,000 enumerators.

Harris also is integrating the Census Bureau's Master Address File and Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing databases as part of the Accuracy Improvement Project.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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